Egypt off to winning start

2010-01-12 20:45
Ahmed Hassan (AFP)
Benguela - Defending champions Egypt defeated Nigeria 3-1 in their opening Africa Cup of Nations Group C match at the Ombaka Stadium here on Tuesday.

The six-time champions brought to an end a 23-year-old winless run they have endured against the west Africans and, most importantly, gave them a head start to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Against the run of play, Nigeria took the lead after 14 minutes through the exciting Chinedu Obasi, who powered home a left-footed rocket of a shot from outside the box beyond a diving goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.

Emad Motaeb drew Egypt level in the 33rd minute when he got to the end of a quick counter attack initiated by Wael Gomaa and skipper Ahmed Hassan to round goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and slot the ball into an empty net.

Hassan gave the champions the lead in the 54th minute when he thundered home a blinder past Enyeama from outside the 18-yard box which did take a deflection off Taye Taiwo.

Substitute Mohamed Nagi completed the demolition job on Nigeria when he drove home a pile driver for the third goal to the delight of the noisy, 32,000-strong crowd.

Before that Mohamed Zidan should have extended Egypt's lead on the hour mark when all alone with Enyeama inside the box, but he blasted wide.

Hoffenheim striker Obasi, a late inclusion in the Super Eagles squad to Angola, was at the heart of several Nigerian attacks against an Egyptian team missing key stars like Mohamed Aboutrika, Mohamed Barakat and Amr Zaki through injury.

Zidan would have put the defending champions in front after seven minutes but his final shot sailed over the bar with goalkeeper Enyeama beaten.

And immediately after Obasi's stunning opening goal, Said Moawad would have drawn Egypt level but he sliced his final effort off target.

On 23 minutes, Borussia Dortmund striker Zidan again threatened the Nigerian goal but his low shot went out to the relief of Enyeama.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni had a penalty appeal refused by the referee from Mauritius, Rajindraparsad Seechurn, in the 20th minute after Egyptian defender Mahmoud Fathalla handled the ball inside the box.

And moments later, Kalu Uche fired wide from inside the area.

In the 33rd minute, left-back Taiwo launched an ambitious attack down the left wing before pulling back for Uche, who failed to hit target.

It was a miss Nigeria would rue as moments later, Egypt countered for Al Ahly striker Motaeb to score the equaliser as the Pharaohs finished the first half the stronger of the two teams.

In the second half, Egypt continued to create chances with Zidan troubling the Nigerian back four again and again, while at the other end, goalkeeper El Hadary kept out whatever Nigeria could produce as the champions showed they cannot be taken lightly in Angola.


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